The third most successful adult contemporary music act of all time, behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John, Neil Diamond (his real name) has sold over 115 million records and had his songs covered by nearly as many fellow performers. Primarily a songwriter, Diamond spent most of the 1960s composing hits for The Monkees, including “I'm A Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”. Other big hits of the decade, such as Deep Purple's “Kentucky Woman”, Lulu's “The Boat That I Row”, and Cliff Richard's “Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon”, were all written by Diamond. His first sung hit, was the self-penned “Solitary Man”, and he was also, surreally, the support act for groups like The Who and Herman's Hermits.
After signing with MCA Records in 1969, he moved from New York to California and had hits with “Sweet Caroline” (written for Caroline Kennedy), “Cracklin' Rosie” and “Song Sung Blue”. His 1972 live album, Hot August Night, featured live performances from Los Angeles' Greek Theatre, and was an instant bestseller, and in 1973 he composed the score for the animated film Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which won him a Grammy. Beautiful Noise was released in 1976, followed by I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight in 1977, which included the tracks “You Don't Bring Me Flowers”, later covered by Barbra Streisand, and “Forever In Blue Jeans”. 1979's September Mom contained the track “Red Red Wine”, which proved a global hit for UB40 several years later.
In 1980, Diamond turned his hand to acting, starring in The Jazz Singer, his performance being nominated for both a Razzie and a Golden Globe. The film showcased three future hits, “Love On The Rocks”, “America” and “Hello Again”, but the rest of the decade was not a success, recording-wise, although his tours, as ever, always sold out. When several sports teams adopted (and adapted) “Sweet Caroline” as their teams' anthem in the 1990s, interest in Diamond was reignited. Urge Overkill then covered “Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon” on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction, and Diamond returned to the studio to record 12 Songs in 2005, an album said by some to be his best in thirty years. A 2008 sell-out tour of the UK followed, and Diamond also featured as a guest performer on shows like American Idol, which opened his music up to a younger generation. The same year, an album of new songs, Home Before Dark, went straight to No.1 on the Billboard chart, the first time he'd ever achieved the top position.
An album of cover versions, Dreams, was released in November 2010, and a greatest hits album, The Very Best Of Neil Diamond, in December 2011.
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